March 31, 2015: We’re Back
To quote the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” We’re home and we’re alive and that’s all that really matters I suppose. Secondarily, however, we learned a lot from our venture away from Union Creek. I’m going to try to capture both the valuable lessons gleaned during our trip as well as document any events that may also prove valuable some day. The combined volume of information will, likely, be considerable. It may take me several days to complete the documentation – especially given the amount of work that needs to be done now that we’ve returned.
I’ve prepared myself for the inevitable writer’s cramp.
What did we learn?
We learned that it’s dangerous out there. We assumed that before we left, but we now know to a greater extent how far the danger reaches – not just in terms of geography but also the extent to which the danger has almost completely permeated society. It’s one thing to hear reports over the radio. It’s another thing, entirely, to see first hand what has happened to our society.
Although we’ve certainly had our trials here at Union Creek, we have been largely sheltered, in my opinion, from the horrific face of the new normal.
We saw, first hand, what desperate people will do. People, who were probably upstanding, law-abiding citizens before the crash, have resorted to unspeakable actions. Seeing this was, perhaps, even more frightening than the physical risks we encountered.
We were buoyed by our ability to find and rescue Terry’s daughter’s family and one of their neighbors and then dragged below the surface by a deadly undertow of what seems to be a growing tide of painful experiences.
Will, the husband of Mike and Jenny’s neighbor, Mandy, died as we approached their home. Mike and Jenny had tried to save him while taking heavy fire from a gang of looters. In all likelihood, those looters were good citizens just months ago. In the wake of the crash, they’ve been driven to committing murder and pillaging those weaker than themselves to survive. I’m not making excuses for them. We shot them down like rabid dogs. I’m merely trying to wrap my own mind around their behavior … and our own.
We also discovered that Terry’s son, Steve, and his family are MIA. There was no sign of them at their home. The house had been stripped – before or after their departure, we couldn’t tell. There was nothing to suggest where they might have gone … or if they had survived for some time after the crash. Were they taken away forcibly? No idea. Where might they have gone, either of their own accord or under duress? No clue. They have disappeared without a trace. It is possible that they retreated to one of the FEMA shelters that we saw, but, regrettably, we had neither the manpower nor the time to comb every shelter near their home.
Disheartening … to say the least.
Terry and Laura are, at once, joyful and saddened. Fitting, it seems, for the new normal.
On a very practical note, we’re going to have to make some adjustments to the living quarters here on the farm. With the addition of Ariela, Mike, Jenny and their kids and Mike and Jenny’s neighbor, Mandy … well, things are a bit tight.
I nearly forgot! Much of Ariela’s (the woman we rescued from the Hernandez estate) memory has returned. She still seems to have a few holes in the fabric of her recollection but, overall, both her mental and physical recovery have been exceptional.
Incidentally, we took Ariela with us on our trip. No one was quite comfortable yet leaving her back here with a skeleton crew. That has changed in the last several days. I’m fairly confident now that she will become a trusted and highly productive member of our burgeoning group. I suppose it’s possible that her entire persona is nothing but a smoke screen, but – based on recent events – highly doubtful. That, however, probably deserves of a journal entry all its own.
We learned that there are times when there are no alternatives to extreme violence … even when you wish there were. We were forced to open fire on a number of groups in order to defend ourselves. Almost every time, the groups were armed only with handguns and rifles. We were quite obviously traveling in military vehicles and armed with .50 caliber machine guns.
We were baffled each time this happened. Why engage? Why not hide and simply watch to ensure the vehicles passed by? Why not create vehicle traps that would keep vehicles from infiltrating your AO without having to engage an enemy with superior firepower? It made no sense. It saddened us to no end to think that we were defending ourselves with deadly force against innocent individuals only seeking to remain alive.
In one such engagement, we were approaching an intersection that had been blockaded by disabled vehicles. We approached with caution and rolled to a stop a little more than 100 yards from the blockade. Ariela, with her one good eye, spotted movement at our two o’clock, near the blockade. Several individuals were moving overland, nearly concealed by a small hill to the west of the vehicles. We remained in place while the individuals set up behind the vehicles. As I stepped out of the passenger seat of the lead HMMWV with my hands raised, one of the individuals took a shot at me. We buttoned up and retreated in reverse another 100 yards but the small arms fire followed us. Left with little choice due to the terrain and incoming fire, I had Terry open up with the .50 cal on the vehicles. One of the incendiary rounds must have found a tank with a bit of gasoline still in it.
The vehicle exploded into a giant orange ball of flame. The small arms fire came to an abrupt halt as the individuals behind the vehicles were shredded by hunks of metal propelled by the explosion at super-sonic speeds.
We estimated five dead as we passed by a few minutes later. The carnage was sickening.
We found out quite a bit about the U.N. troops, their movements and their plans. That was, of course, the original purpose of our mission. Thankfully, the troops don’t seem to be concerned with concealing their movements or their plans – at least not their official plans.
Officially, the troops are sponsored by the United Nations and “they’re here to help”.
How many times have I heard that before?
Unofficially, it appears that a considerable number of troops are garrisoned at the former Offutt Air Force Base near Bellevue, a suburb of Omaha. The number of troops at the base appears to far exceed the number that would be required to assist the residents of the Omaha area as outlined by official notices. Additionally, more troops seem to be arriving on a fairly frequent basis.
We watched what appeared to be the remnants of a battalion arrive as we reconnoitered the area around Steve and Rhona’s home. They were all clad in digital camouflage uniforms and U.N.-blue helmets. Their packs were empty but they could barely remain upright. As we watched them pass, two of the soldiers fell out of the formation and were left behind. It would never occur to American troops to leave a man behind but these troops marched onward as if nothing had happened. I suspect there is a trail of dead or dying U.N. soldiers from Bellevue to wherever these troops came from.
Most of the troops appeared to be starved and sick. They were gaunt and we observed a good number of them coughing up blood. Our biggest danger, unless these troops are rehabilitated and resupplied at Offutt, is most likely from disease. It certainly isn’t without precedent for U.N. troops to kill off any number of the civilians they’re supposedly protecting with the diseases they carry to their shores. The radio reports suggested Typhoid and Tuberculosis were common among the troops here on our shores. Based on what we saw, I have no reason to doubt those reports.
It’s Midnight. I’m beat and I’ll be up by 4:30 tomorrow morning back to the old grind.